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The One with Anonymous Hackers, Glenn Greenwald, U.S. Security Firms, and a Plan to Bring Down Wikileaks

BY Nancy Scola | Monday, February 14 2011

A slide from "The Wikileaks Threat," a presentation allegedly hacked from the files of the securuity firm HBGary, via Business Insider

Haven't been following the odd, odd tale where hackers who may or may have been affiliated Anonymous uncovered security firm emails that detailed a plot to undermine Wikileaks and its supporters, including Salon's Glenn Greenwald? The New York Times' Eric Lipton and Charlie Savage can get you up to speed quickly with this piece, including a look at how things got to this point:

The episode traces back to a dispute in December, when corporations including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal severed ties to WikiLeaks, temporarily cutting off its ability to accept donations. WikiLeaks had just begun releasing leaked State Department cables in conjunction with a consortium of news organizations, including The New York Times.

Calling the companies’ severing of such ties an affront to Internet freedom, a loose-knit group of computer users named Anonymous coordinated attacks on the Web sites of such companies. [Aaron Barr, CEO of security company HBGary Federal] apparently began trying to uncover the identities of those involved with Anonymous. But after he boasted of his efforts in a newspaper article, hackers attacked his company’s Web site and made public the e-mails.

Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are said to the planned beneficiaries of the alleged scheme, via Hunton & Williams, a law firm that has represented both in the past. For this part, Greenwald says that he initially dismissed the "very strange" episode but reconsidered once he realized the footprint of the security firms involved. Now, writes Greenwald, he sees the whole thing as a rather sinister plot where those with the money run the show and where government and the law are "so annexed by the most powerful private-sector elites, and so corrupted by the public officials who run them, that nobody -- least of all those elites -- has any expectation that they will limit anything."

More so every day does it seem like we're living in a Steig Larsson novel.